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5/22/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin

Universal Orlando's latest on-site hotel is now open for booking.

5/19/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Pleasant Holidays announced an “exclusive” package at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Island of Hawaii. The package features an exclusive rate combined with added values, including daily breakfast for two and 15% discounts on spa treatments at the resort. The offer, bookable only through the operator, is valid on new bookings for select travel through January 2, 2018. Roundtrip airfare and accommodations in either Mountain View or Ocean View rooms are required. There is no minimum stay requirement.

The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay offers multi-level pools, a waterslide and dramatic ocean views, set on 22 acres on the island’s West Coast.

5/17/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


CheapOair.com this week released a summary of travel trends from 2013 through 2017. Among the findings (based on booked trips, not number of passengers):

  • The least number of travelers choose to depart on Sunday and Monday, making those the best days to fly.
  • Thursday is the most crowded departure day.
  • Domestic travel has increased by nearly 50% since 2013. The most significant jump came between 2016 and 2017, with an increase of 15%.
  • Domestic ticket prices in 2017 were slighter higher than in 2016, but still lower than the average airfare since 2013.
  • International airfare is at its lowest since 2013; 2017 average prices were 17% lower than in 2013.
  • International travel has increased by nearly 170% since 2013. The most significant jump came between 2016 and 2017, with an increase of nearly 30%.
  • The total number of passengers has increased by 85% since 2013.
  • Average trip duration has increased from 10 days in 2013 to 13.61 days in 2017.
5/16/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Pleasant Holidays is offering a BOGO (Buy One Get one) Hawaii Activity Sale for packaged vacations to Oahu, Maui, Island of Hawaii and Kauai. Travelers can buy one activity, tour or sightseeing excursion and get one of equal or lesser value free. The offer is valid on new Hawaii bookings made by June 4, 2017 for select travel through December 15, 2017 and requires roundtrip airfare and a minimum three-night stay at a participating hotel or resort.

Travelers can select from hundreds of activities throughout the islands. Popular choices include: the USS Arizona Memorial & USS Missouri Tour at Pearl Harbor; island luaus and the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu; the Hana Adventure Tour and Molokini Snorkel Adventure on Maui; the Na Pali Catamaran Cruise and Kipu Zipline Safari on Kauai; and the Big Island Spectacular Helicopter Tour and Twilight Volcano Adventure Hike on the Island of Hawaii.

In addition to the complimentary activity, which has a maximum value of $500, many of the 30 participating resorts offer exclusive hotel rates and added values that can only be booked through Pleasant Holidays. These include room upgrades, daily breakfast, spa discounts and more. At the time of booking, a voucher will be generated for the BOGO activity offer; the voucher can then be redeemed by the traveler or his/her travel agent by calling 1-888-229-7770. Fees and surcharges are excluded and must be paid for both tours, and there is a limit of one complimentary activity per booking.

5/12/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Cape Arundel Inn & Resort in Kennebunkport, ME, has added six newly designed luxury accommodations known as the Rockbound Bungalows. Adjacent to the Victorian-era home that is the main house of the resort, these six rooms provide expansive front-porch views of the Atlantic Ocean located across the street.

Each 400 square-foot room is outfitted with king beds, Frette fabrics, metallic detailing and contemporary finishes including hardwood flooring, velvet headboards, onyx side tables. Inspired by the seaside setting, the Rockbound Bungalows have custom marble vanities, breakfast bars and sitting areas with a gas fireplace.

In addition to the main house, the resort is home to 15 wooded acres in a cluster of private homes a short distance away. The club house has an additional 14 rooms, a three-bedroom cottage, a heated outdoor pool, expansive lawns, and a library with a pool table, fireplace and full bar.

5/10/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Soneva is selling a Great Family Escape activities package to two resorts in the Maldives and one in Thailand. The packages include seven activities for up to six adults and three children and is designed specifically for family reunions.

Guests can choose seven experiences from more than 15 options including: dolphin cruises, glass blowing, snorkeling, cooking class, treasure hunts and wine tasting.

The package is priced at $4,500 at Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood, an hour flight from Bangkok; and $5,000 at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives.

The package does not include accommodations but is combinable with all offers and promotions. One option is to combine it with an Ultimate Family Getaway Package where children up to 12 get free domestic transfers and full board; or with a Larger Villas for Unforgettable Friends and Family Getaways package. All can be booked through Soneva reservations or tour operators.

5/9/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Bestway Tours & Safaris, a North American tour operator specializing in small groups, has expanded its World Heritage division with the release of the second edition of its World Heritage Tours brochure and launch of a specialized website.

World Heritage Tours offers itineraries to more than 80 destinations, covering almost 200 World Heritage sites. Journeys span Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Europe. The second edition expands offerings to include new programs to the Arab Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf, Eastern Europe’s Caucasus Region, China, Iran, Indonesia and southern Africa.

Created in 2008, World Heritage Tours was born from a drive to see, share and preserve World Heritage Sites - locations designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having great natural or cultural significance to mankind.

Said Mahmood Poonja, chief explorer at Bestway, “Right now, there are World Heritage Sites on every continent that are in danger of being irreversibly damaged. Sharing these sites with travelers is our way of raising awareness that this is something that needs to be addressed.”

All World Heritage Tours include deluxe and luxury accommodation, English-speaking local guides, sightseeing and admission fees, authentic cultural experiences and exploration of between five and 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Journeys are customizable to suit travelers’ preferred dates and interests.

5/5/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Israeli flag carrier El Al is coming back to South Florida with nonstop flights to Miami. The airline last served MIA in 2008. The route will resume in November with three flights a week.

El Al also flies to Boston, New York JFK, Newark and Los Angeles.

"In our efforts to make MIA a truly global gateway, Israel has always been one of our top strategic targets because of its unique and historically significant global location, and because of its deep cultural ties with Miami," said aviation director Emilio Gonzlez.

Gonzlez said discussions with El Al about reopening the route had been ongoing for more than a year.

"I am pleased to announce today that El Al will launch the only nonstop flights from South Florida to Israel in the near future. This decision is part and parcel of the strategy in which we recognize the importance of trans-Atlantic routes and our desire to expand EL AL's presence in North America," said David Maimon, CEO, El Al Israel Airlines.

5/5/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


The Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes on the northern end of Myrtle Beach has completed a $14 makeover which included 405 revamped guest rooms that were redesigned to include brand-new contemporary furniture, including chests, mirrors, artwork, closets, desks, chairs and beds – down to the sheets, mattresses, duvets, pillows and pillow cases. All rooms now also boast new 50-inch smart TVs. Guest room bathrooms were replaced with new, luxurious walk-in showers, mirrors, fixtures, commodes and lighting. The hallways on the resort’s 11 floors were re-carpeted and updated as well.

From floor to ceiling, the renovation aims at bringing to light the oceanfront resort’s sophisticated style, sleek finishes, clean lines, and spacious design. “We believe our guests will be pleased and delighted with these renovations,” says Cindy Hull, director of sales and marketing for the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. “The Myrtle Beach Marriott has always set a high standard among the oceanfront hotels here along the Grand Strand, and these upgrades will define a new benchmark of luxury moving forward.”

For meeting planners, the resort offers 45,000 square feet of event space. For families and couples, the resort sits on the oceanfront on the north end of Myrtle Beach.

5/5/2017  |  by Harvey Chipkin


Montreal is offering a free “passport” to travelers providing admission to 14 events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, part of the official program for Montreal’s 375th anniversary. Inspired by the iconic original passport as a tribute, the new version, connected via RFID chip, will allow holders to take advantage of a range of exclusive content and additional offers for the exhibitions.

The new passport will be available in paper and electronic formats. Holders will be able to collect stamps – either physical or virtual – showing the activities they visited. The limited edition paper passport is available from participating businesses– McCord Museum, Stewart Museum, Biosphere, and Montreal City Hall, or the electronic version can be found on the 375MTL mobile app on Android and IOS. Visitors are encouraged to show the passport during visits and collect virtual and digital stamps to collect the most stamps possible for a chance to win a VIP experience!

Highlights include:

  • EXPO 67 – 50 YEARS LATER EVENTS, Mode Expo 67 – McCord Museum, March 17 to October 1: The McCord Museum plunges you into the world of Expo 67, taking a look at cutting-edge fashion in Montréal and Canada at the time. 
  • The 1960s in Montréal – Montréal City Hall, April 22 to May 6: Montréal reinvents itself. The 1960s shook things up in Québec, and in particular in Montréal. Place Ville-Marie, the metro, Expo 67… Discover life in Montréal at the time through photos from the Montréal Archives. 
  • Expo 67 – A World of Dreams – Stewart Museum, April 26 to October 8: The Stewart Museum celebrates the big dreams and innovative spirit of Expo 67 through an immersive multimedia exhibition put together from the archives of the NFB and Radio-Canada. 
  • Cité Mémoire, Expo 67, From May 10: Expo 67 will be the theme for a new piece by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, in collaboration with Michel Marc Bouchard, which will be added to the multimedia work Cité Mémoire.  Can be viewed every night using the free Montréal en Histoires app. 
  • The Shape of Things to Come - Centre de design de l'UQAM, June 1 to August 13: This exhibition celebrates Habitat 67, the revolutionary housing complex created by architect Moshe Safdie. The exhibition also takes a look at the architect's subsequent projects to present-day, through work directly inspired by Habitat 67. 
  • La Balade pour la Paix: An Open-Air Museum, June 5 to October 29:  A major international public art exhibition designed and organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will showcase 67 pieces that convey a message of peace, reflecting the universal values of humanism, tolerance and openness that inspired Expo 67.